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Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships

Nationally Competitive Scholarships

Kansas State University
215 Fairchild Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-1113

785-532-3422

Tips for Scholarship Seekers

Where to Look for Scholarships
Becoming a Strong Candidate for Scholarships
Application Essentials

Where to Look for Scholarships

There is no magical source that pulls together all scholarship information. There are also no assurances that your search will yield dollars. Winning scholarship support is a mark of distinction because it is difficult and competitive. However, it can still be worth the effort.  K-State students have succeeded many times over the years, and applying helps prepare you for future opportunities in a variety of ways.  

Finding scholarships that match your particular goals and credentials is important. You may peruse a lot of incompatible scholarships before you find one that fits. Try to enjoy the challenge. Remember that others are confronted with the same landscape.

  • My office lists a number of prominent national scholarships at www.k-state.edu/nationalscholarships/scholarships-and-fellowships.
  • Some books offer listings of scholarships. Some are available in my office and some are available at Hale Library. There are also books you can purchase from various vendors of printed material.  I would recommend you pursue free options first though.
  • There are websites that offer free scholarship searches.  FastWeb and SallieMae are two popular engines (although there are many out there).
  • Never pay for internet searches. The Office of Student Financial Assistance offers some good advice on avoiding Scholarship Scams.
  • Many times your department will post scholarship information on a departmental bulletin board or digital sign, or disseminate information over a departmental listserv.
  • Professional organizations and societies in your field may offer scholarships to support promising individuals heading towards that vocation.
  • Consider what government agencies might relate to your interests; many have scholarship programs and/or other competitive opportunities.
  • Check with institutions associated with your religious practice.
  • Check with community and social organizations with which you and/or members of your family are affiliated.
  • Non-Traditional and Veteran Student Services offers some scholarship guidance for students under either classification.  Note that "non-traditional" is defined as married, having children, having already celebrated your 25th birthday, or having returned to school after an extended absence.
  • Consult with honorary societies to which you belong.  Some provide scholarship opportunities for their members.
  • Make sure and check with those who employ you and/or your parents to see if they offer scholarship support.

Becoming a Strong Candidate for Scholarships

Seek an undergraduate experience that maximizes your personal, intellectual and professional growth. You become a strong scholarship candidate by striving towards meaningful ends.  Here are a number of suggestions for getting the most from your college experience.  They are offered with the recognition that you will have to prioritize your time and effort in accordance with your goals and interests, which means not all of these items are equally important for all students.

  • Pursue excellence in challenging classes. Good grades are prerequisite for scholarship success, but the best students seek more than the grade. Train yourself towards intellectual curiosity. Take challenging and diverse courses outside your major. Try not to look at your curriculum as a fence around the pasture.
  • Work on your communication skills. Many scholarships require essays and interviews. Take courses in the liberal arts tradition to develop your skills and to learn how to construct effective arguments.
  • Get work, internship and volunteer experience in your field. Start looking for such experiences right after your freshman year.
  • Use every summer productively.
  • Make time for public service and volunteerism in areas that you care about.
  • Expand your knowledge of the people and events that are shaping your world. Read a serious newspaper and subscribe to one magazine or journal that covers matters of interest to your future profession. Participate in cultural events and attend lectures to hear fresh viewpoints.
  • Undertake travel and study abroad. Go as early as possible.
  • Get involved in interesting extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you. There are no formulaic "best" activities. What you do with them is more important.
  • Seek out leadership positions. This does not necessarily mean holding offices in five different clubs. It means becoming an active player and contributor. Make things happen! Start your own organization if you see an unfilled need.
  • Consider submitting essays to essay contests and competing for smaller scholarships. These awards can function as building blocks.
  • Seek the opportunity to do undergraduate research in your field whenever possible. This may take different forms with different majors, but it will help you prepare for your academic future and complement your classroom experience.
  • Get to know people. Engage your professors, advisors, administrators and employers. 
  • Start assessing and reflecting upon your credentials and goals. This will help you clarify your direction in life and reveal what steps you should follow to reach those goals. It will also help you determine which scholarships best fit your situation.
  • If it looks like you could reasonably compete, summon up the courage to go for it. Why should you be the person who rejects your application? And the great success of K-Staters in competing for top scholarship is a testament to the value of making the effort.
  • Read books independently to enrich your perspective and fertilize your mind.
  • Get off the beaten path and actively look for/dream up opportunities that are perfect for you.
  • Make time to care for your physical and mental health; good health supports all other aims.

Application Essentials

Here are some essential tips for conducting your scholarship campaign in a professional manner. You want to work in a manner that promotes success, both for the present and the future.

  • Start your search early to find your targets early. Know the deadlines and plan accordingly. Put them on your calendar. Obtain the application right away.
  • Respect the deadlines. Respect the eligibility parameters. Don't waste the time of yourself and others by applying late or applying for awards for which you don't qualify.
  • Ask your references with plenty of time to spare. They will write better letters if they have sufficient time and if they know you respect their time.
  • Supply your references with information they need to write effectively. For advice on gathering good references, go to Requesting Letters of Reference.
  • Read your application materials carefully. Would you award an individual who could not follow directions? You might consider creating a checklist.
  • If you need transcripts order them far ahead. You will find that not all institutions supply transcripts quickly (although many perform the task admirably). Check on the status of your transcript request when appropriate.
  • The Career Center has great advice on putting together a strong resume or CV in their Resume Guide.
  • For advice on how to write scholarship essays, go to Writing Scholarship Essays.
  • You should strive for a pristine application. No errors of spacing, spelling, punctuation, bad alignment, sloppy word choice, etc. Get others to read your application because you will probably miss some obvious errors. Find readers who will read critically. For more tips regarding how to polish and package your application, go to Style Tips for Scholarship Essays.
  • The Writing Center can also provide input on scholarship essays and help you improve your writing.
  • Remember to make a copy of the final application for your records. You may want to use elements of the application for future scholarship applications.
  • Persevere. Many very qualified individuals are turned down for top scholarships. The students who keep the window of opportunity open are those who continue to search for scholarships that suit them and continue to apply.